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#happylife: What it means to be 'kindergarten ready'

SPOKANE, Wash. - In Spokane County, the amount of children considered "kindergarten ready" has been on a decline over the last several years.

The most recent data from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction revealed that two years ago, just 62% of kindergartners showed readiness in the area. Data measured a few things, including math and literacy skills, cognitive, physical and language development, as well as the social-economic status. 

"I used to hear a saying, that all children learn to walk and talk at the different time but by kindergarten it all evens out. Ha! Such a lie. It's not true," said Spokane Public Schools kindergarten teacher Bambi Howe.

Howe's coworkers call her an expert when it comes to kindergarten readiness; she's been a teacher for nearly 30 years. In her experience, kindergarten readiness boils down to two things.

"Almost 100% of the time its social and emotional readiness," Howe said. 

Being able to express emotions and the ability problem solve their way through them is key. Experience sharing with others, stamina to listen to a teacher's lesson are also important.

"And then really I'd say it's independence. And I had my own kindergartner last year and I realized thankfully her preschool encouraged me so even with all my experience, right? I still did not think about all the things I was automatically doing for her," added Spokane Public Schools Kindergarten coordinator Karin Thompson.

Thompson learned and encourages other parents to take a step back.

Over the next few weeks, have your child practice using the bathroom and do hand-washing on their own. Give them snaps, zippers or buttons to play around with, even go over hanging up a backpack on a hook.

"If you know you are going to pack a lunch for your child, practice opening the things that come in their lunch," added Howe.

Familiarize them with what will happen on the first day. For Spokane Public Schools, kindergartners will get a tour of the school that includes recess equipment! Encourage them that it won't feel too different from their prior classroom. As the first six weeks is more like preschool so everyone can be comfortable with each other before structure is introduced.

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